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Shvoong Home>Books>A Doll's House Review

A Doll's House

Book Review   by:Peter Jones     Original Author: Henrik Ibsen
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When Nora Helmer walked out of her safe middle class family home at the end of Ibsen's play, the symbolic power of the slamming of the door caused riots in European theatres and a collective shiver down the spines of any husbands in the audience. Perhaps they would have taken a glance at the little lady beside them and wondered...A BBC series in the 1980's examining the progress of women's rights was called "Out of the Doll's House", and Nora's plight was seized upon by the embryonic women's rights lobbyists of the 1880's and claimed as theirs.But it was never meant to be like this. To pigeonhole Ibsen's famous play in these terms is to reduce its potential to stir us today, when one out of three marriages ends in similar walk outs, and houses echo to the slam of a front door.This is a play about the potential in us all, and the extent to which society seeks to smother that potential. Nora is married to Torvald, whose stifling influence on his young wife makes the audience uncomfortable from the very start. We become voyeurs, listening in this couple's vacuous intimacies. Outside influences shake this state of affairs, and, like Nora's old school friend, Mrs Linde, we come to realise that this is a state of affairs that needs to be shaken. The introduction of the rather melodramatic figure of Nils Krogstad - indeed, the melodrama is the only feature of this play that dates it, betraying its nineteenth century roots - and his clumsy attempt to blackmail Nora drives the plot towards the final showdown between Torvald and his doll. As a piece of theatre, the last scene has few peers. Symbolically, Nora changes out of her party dress, and is now dressed to go out in to the world. Her last words to Torvald are brutally honest, then there is the slamming of that door.
Published: December 10, 2006   
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